Mark Keenum, president of Mississippi State University, has been named to the 15-member Foundation for Food and Agricultural Research (FFAR) board of directors. Congress authorized the FFAR in the 2014 farm bill, recognizing the need to identify and develop new sources of revenue to support investments in U.S. agriculture research.

The foundation will operate as a non-profit corporation seeking and accepting private donations in order to fund research activities that focus on problems of national and international significance. Congress also provided $200 million for the foundation which must be matched by non-federal funds as the foundation identifies and approves projects.

In addition, FFAR fosters collaboration amongst agricultural researchers to address unmet and emerging research needs through grants, contracts, cooperative agreements, and memoranda of understanding.

"I'm extremely honored personally and on behalf of Mississippi State University to have this very meaningful opportunity for national service," said Keenum. "This appointment strengthens agricultural research from both public and private sources and will have a clearly defined national and global impact."

Keenum said the USDA appointment will allow MSU to be represented "in this vital process and that fact greatly enhances our university's status as a major player in national and global agricultural research efforts and activities."

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said “Studies have shown that every dollar invested in agricultural research creates $20 in economic activity. Investments in innovation made over the past several decades have developed new products and new procedures that have been critical to the continued growth of American agriculture. We must continue to make strategic investments in research and technology if we are to remain leaders in the global economy.”